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Posts Tagged ‘euphorbia’

Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  While I was playing recorders in Denholm last Saturday, he was watching a cycle event passing by further up the borders.

cycle sportive

It was another dry day today, although it seems to have rained later on when we were in Edinburgh.

After breakfast, I went for a look at the new anemone to see how it was doing.

anemone

I think it is probably the prettiest flower that we have in the garden all year.  The colours are so rich that it is hard to beat.

While I was out, I saw that I am not the only one interested in euphorbias.

fly on euphorbia

Every flower had a friend….

fly on euphorbia

I have said it before and I will say it again, they are the most extraordinary plants, obviously designed by a committee which wanted to get everything in.

It felt quite warm and the wind seemed light in the garden so I set out for a short cycle ride in good spirits.  The warmth was real but the calmness was an illusion and as soon as I got out of the shelter of the town, i found myself battling into a brisk wind as I pedalled the ten miles or so out to Paddockhole.

On the this occasion the wind didn’t play any silly tricks so at least I was given a good helping hand on the return journey.   My daughter Annie has sent me some Colombian guava energy bars and I gave one a try today.  It was very tasty but my legs didn’t seem particularly grateful.  The wind might have had something to do with that so I will give them another try,  They taste better than standard energy gels so that is in their favour.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and I had a look round too.

bergenia

The bergenia is flourishing

spirea

As are the spireas

A blackbird sat on the silver pear and sang a challenge to all comers….

blackbird

The jackdaws made a mess of my lawn again yesterday, almost as soon as I had finished mowing it…

jackdaws lawn pecking

They are not taking the moss away as I cleared a bucket of pecked moss off

…so it was looking a bit part worn today.  They may save me the trouble of scarifying it if they go on like this.

I didn’t have a lot of time to look at birds but I took a shot or two after I had had my shower….

blackbird

A blackbird checks to see who else is around as it lands on the feeder

redpoll

Once again there was no shortage of redpolls

…and then it was time to head to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

The train trip was very pleasant in the sunshine and we were much struck by the brilliance of this field of rape near Edinburgh.

rape near Edinburgh

Matilda and her parents were in good form and we spent some happy hours playing games, only interrupted by a trip to the shops.

I was just taking a sober picture of Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda going down the steps from the house….

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

…when there was a regrettable outbreak of media awareness.

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

They were joined by Matilda’s mum, Clare and walked along to the shops to cries of…

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

…one, two three, wheeeee!

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

It was a very cheery outing.

The train journey home was uneventful and we were surprised to see that it had obviously rained at Lockerbie although we had had a clear, fine afternoon and evening in Edinburgh.

I managed to catch a flying chaffinch at lunchtime.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was at the sea side in Morecambe yesterday.  He was lucky enough to find the sea at home.

MorecambeThe forecasters promised us a coolish day with light winds and no rain and they got it exactly right.  There was a light frost when we woke up which caused the tulips to hang their heads in distress but didn’t appear to actually finish any plants off completely.

The chill meant that I was in no hurry to get out on my bicycle and in the end, I waited until eleven o’clock before the temperature crept up to 7.5°C and then I went out.

The sun was out and it shone on the siskins…

siskin

One wisely leaving before being awarded the order of the boot from another

…who were in a rather factious mood…

siskins

More evasive action

…but for all its cheerful brightness, it wasn’t doing much to heat the day up.

For a change, I decided to leave the town following the road up the Esk  rather than my usual route up the Wauchope.  This does involve a couple of quite sharp but short climbs as soon as you leave the town and as I am not supposed to cycle up too many steep hills with my new tin knee, I use this route sparingly.

I took it very gently though and arrived at Eskdalemuir in good order.

Bridge over the Esk

The bridge over the Esk there is guarded by many power lines and poles

I could hardly hear myself think because of the insistent baa-ing of sheep and lambs in the field beside the river.

Eskdalemuir lambs

The thrifty people who built the church at Eskdalemuir in the early nineteenth century didn’t waste any money on frivolous ornamentation.

Eskdalemuir church

I was in expansive mood though and popped into the cafe at the Eskdalemuir Hub in the old school for a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.  This gave me enough strength to head out over the hills to Lockerbie.  The route elevation….

garmin route 18 April 2017 elevation

…shows that the first part of my journey was quite hilly and annoyingly having climbed up a long hill to get to 900 feet before Eskdalemuir, it immediately drops sharply before leaving me with another climb of 400 feet or more to get back to 950 feet, the highest point of the trip.  These are not like Tour de France climbs but then I am not like a Tour de France climber and they were quite steep enough for me.

Once over the undulating plateau between Eskdalemuir and Boreland, there is some welcome down hill and the rest of the journey bobbed up and down over very gentle country.

Not all of our handsome stone bridges have survived modern traffic and this one over the Dryfe Water…

Dryfe Water bridge

…was so battered by a passing lorry that they gave up and put in a metal trough.

Once I was through Lockerbie, I was on the old main road south, now bypassed by a new motorway.  This is quite a dull road but it was brightened up a lot in places by a fringe of dandelions.

dandelions verge

It has a useful cycle lane on each side of the road.

I stopped to eat an egg roll near Eaglesfield and was reminded that this has been a busy place for many years.  In the foreground is a bridge over the Carlisle to Glasgow motorway and the flat topped hill in the background….

motorway and roman camp

…..was home not just to  a Roman camp but an Iron Age fort as well.

I didn’t stop for many pictures as the day had become quite dull and I needed to keep my mind on my cycling rather than looking for wild flowers in the verge.

In the end, I needed to go through the town for a mile and then back again to ring up exactly 60 miles on the computer as I swung into our drive.

I had enough energy left to walk round the garden and check that the frost hadn’t done too much damage.

hellebore, dicentra and dogwood

It hadn’t.

tulip, lamium and wallflower

One of the Euphorbias deserved a picture all to itself I thought.

euphorbia

There is no frost in the forecast for the next few days so perhaps we have escaped very lightly.

I filled up the feeders and in no time the siskins were back, taking every perch at both of  the feeders but behaving very sedately this time.

siskins

It was the goldfinches that had taken on the role of hooligans…

goldfinch kicking siskin

…though the siskins were not going quietly into the night.

goldfinch facing up to siskin

I was pleased to see a couple of redpolls keeping calm amongst the mayhem.

redpolls

I had time for a shower and then we welcomed my younger brother and oldest sister to the house.  They are spending a few days in the Lake District and came up to have a meal with us in the Douglas Hotel.  The meal and the conversation were both very good value and the evening was a great delight.

We arranged to see them again in the south in July and September.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

Those interested can find details of my cycle ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 April 2017

It was a pity that the sun didn’t last for very long.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She was walking at Burrington Combe in North Somerset, when she saw this sight on the far side of the road.  It is the very crag which inspired the writer of the 1763 hymn starting: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself  in Thee’

Rock of Ages

We had another dry and mostly cloudy day today.  The dry weather was very welcome but once again the chilly and brisk wind took away some of the pleasure of being out in the garden.

After a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone, I spent a lot of time in the garden so felt the wind quite keenly.

I was finishing tidying up after the installation of the compost bins.  I sorted the old wood into ‘(possibly) usable’ and ‘totally rotten’ piles and then with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, I used some of the wood to improve the partition between Bins C and D.  It all looks very good now but I haven’t put in a photo of the finished set up because I have elderly readers and don’t want to over excite them two days running.  This is a responsible and caring blog.

In between the compost work, I mowed the two lawns and looked at the moss, which always seems more conspicuous after a cut, in a slightly depressed way.  I am waiting for some warmer weather to encourage grass growth before getting the scarifier out.

Mrs Tootlepedal has transplanted some hellbores and a fritillary as she thought that they were blooming rather unseen where they were and she has put them beside the other hellebore near the feeders….

hellebores

…where they will make up a new ‘spring corner’ if they survive the transplanting.

I couldn’t resist another look at the amazing euphorbia…

euphorbia

…although the brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky.

We are getting quite excited by the prospect of azaleas….

azalea buds

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is impressed by her rosemary beside the greenhouse.

rosemary

I find it a very difficult plant to photograph well as my camera sees the leaves much more clearly than the elegant flowers.  I will try again with the macro lens on a sunnier day.

I thought that I had found a nascent tulip afflicted by a dread disease….

fancy tulip

…but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a fancy variety and is supposed to be like that.  I look forward to seeing it when it is fully out.

The aubretias overhanging the side of the dam are thriving.

aubretias

In spite of having had quite an energetic time in the garden, I had enough oomph left to go for a short cycle ride late in the afternoon.  It was still very windy so I settled for a valley-bottom-hugging ride up and down the road beside the Wauchope Water to Cleuchfoot and back a couple of times with a bit added on to make up twenty miles.

I was rewarded for my get up and go spirit when the sun came out just as I started cycling

I saw a towering gorse bush…

aubretias

…and some very young lambs in a field.

cleuchfoot lambs

I went along the banks of the Esk in the town on one of the laps, hoping to see some interesting birds but had to settle for a small meadow on the bank beside the suspension bridge…

cleuchfoot lambs

The flowers that look quite white in the sunshine are in fact a very pretty purple when seen from closer in.

wild flower

Whenever I had a chance through the day, I looked out of the kitchen window.  It was not hard to spot birds lining up to try the new feeders.

goldfinch

siskin and chaffinch

Some customers got impatient though…

chaffinches

…which led to some unedifying moments. ..

chaffinch, goldfinch and siskins

…while off feeder, discussions on the value of a second Scottish Independence Referendum became heated…

chaffinches squabble

A goldfinch wished that all this bad behaviour would cease immediately.

goldfinch

All this bird action is very entertaining to watch but it leads to mess under the feeders and Mrs Tootlepedal is justifiably starting to complain about the smell.  My sense of smell is so poor that I don’t notice anything myself but I will have to put my mind to clearing up and disinfecting the affected area.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see some high class ballet being streamed to the screen in the Buccleuch Centre and but as I find ballet very impressive to watch from a technical and athletic point of view but painfully slow and repetitive from the point of view of advancing a plot or telling a story, I left her to go alone and did some catching up on blog reading.

There are two flying birds of the day,  a goldfinch absolutely delighted by the prospect of one of the new feeders….

goldfinch

…and a siskin.  Not a good picture but siskins don’t hover so getting a picture at all on a dull day is a bonus.

siskin

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Todays’ guest picture shows the Monteath Mausoleum which overlooks the Lilliardsedge Golf Course where Dropscone was playing at the official opening of the Borders Golf Association season on Sunday.

Monteath Mausoleum

It was another fine day in Langholm but slightly marred by a persistent and chilly wind which made me glad that I had an excuse not to go cycling in the morning.  I was due to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm centre so first I pottered around the garden in the sunshine….

lamium

…where the lamium, after a false start earlier in the year, has got going for real.

It lurks beneath our little silver pear tree which is just starting to blossom.

silver pear

The ‘river of blue’ has not quite swept through the garden with as much force as Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked but it is very pretty in places…

grape hyacinths

…and comes in two shades of blue.

I was pleased to find that all the moss on the middle lawn was of some use to someone.

lawn moss

It had been extensively harvested for nesting material by birds before we got up.

I went off to the tourist office armed with a laptop computer and a week of the newspaper index to enter into the Archive Group database and the combination of a steady trickle of visitors and the archive work kept me fully occupied for the two hours so I hardly minded people coming in and saying what a lovely day it was outside, hardly at all.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden, having had a busy morning catching up with business herself.

I noticed that a new fritillary had come out but it needed a helping hand to show its full colour to the world.

fritillary

A fancy tulip needed no help at all.

tulip

My favourite though was the more modest pulsatilla nearby.

pulsatilla

It packs a lot into a small flower head

However, I stopped watching Mrs Tootlepedal gardening and went composting.  I set about finishing turning the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  When that was done, old Bin A made way for the sparkling new Bin A and with the help of Mrs Tootlepedal it was made level and built up.  Compost City is now complete.

 compost city

The beauty of the system is that Bins A and B are adaptable to the needs of the composter.  At present, as it is in the process of getting filled up with new material, Bin A is kept low to make putting the material as easy as possible.  As it fills up, the extra sections from Bin B can moved to Bin A.  The compost in Bin B will have reduced in volume considerably and the bin can then be lowered layer by layer when the time has come to turn it into Bin C.    The nameless plastic bin on the left can be used for anything that we don’t want to put in the main compost and can be left untouched for as long as is necessary.

I went off to look at the Euphorbias which grow more fantastic every day.

euphorbia

This one is like some crazy hat worn by a fashionable lady on Ladies’ Day at the races.

euphorbia

And this one has stuck all its tongues out

It is hard to imagine the small gains that have led the process of natural selection to come up with these elaborate designs.

Then I went in and had a toasted cheese sandwich for a late lunch.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to buy a hedge trimmer.  We have been impressed by the new Li-ion batteries so we laid out good money to get a hedge trimmer with one.   On our way there, I went into the bird food place and bought another big bag of birdseed and two new feeders.  On our way back, we went into a garden centre and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Spirea so we both came home feeling pretty cheerful.

Unlike yesterday, it was a really clear day today and from the garden centre car park, I could see the northern fells very clearly.

Northern Fells

It would have been good to be out among the hills but you can’t do everything.

I tested the bird feeders on the birds when we got back.  The old ones had got rather tatty and battered and have now gone in the dustbin so I hoped that our garden visitors would appreciate some better eating arrangements.

A chaffinch gave one a very wary look…

chaffinch new feeder

…but soon both feeders were being fully used.

goldfinches and a chaffinch

goldfinches

A chaffinch gave a slouching goldfinch a lesson in how to sit up straight at the dinner table.

goldfinches and chaffinch

In the absence of siskins, the goldfinches were the biggest users and approached the new feeders with verve.

goldfinches

Though some waited calmly among the plum blossom.

goldfinch

While it was not the most active day that I have ever spent, it was enjoyable and fruitful and it was rounded off by a very good plate of rhubarb crumble and ice cream. Mrs Tootlepedal had forced some rhubarb under a bucket as an experiment and used the resulting crop in her recipe so perhaps this was why the dish tasted so good.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches giving the new feeders a hard stare.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary, who was on the Unite for Europe March yesterday (as was my sister Susan).  It was rather mentally dislocating to see this peaceful and sunny picture after the recent events nearby.

Unite for Europe March 25.03.17 003

We had our third consecutive day of beautiful weather here and we are having to try very hard not to get too used to this sort of thing as it can’t possibly last.

It was such a good morning that I didn’t spend any time making a meal for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir but got out on my bike instead.  Once again, I had to wait until the morning had warmed up a bit but considering that the clocks had jumped forward an hour during the night, I was quite pleased to get out as early as I did.

My route was extremely dull, being straight down the main road for 15 miles and then straight back again so I didn’t take my camera but I did use my phone to catch a tree at my turning point.

tree near smithfield

The Sunday morning ride is usually very peaceful but for some reason there was a steady stream of traffic going south today and this made the trip less enjoyable that normal so I was happy to get home.  I had hoped to do the 30 mile trip in under two hours but  a freshening crosswind on my way back meant that I missed my target by three minutes.  On the plus side, the thirty miles took me over 1000 miles for the year which is a notable landmark.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived and I got out my camera and had a walk round.

The crocuses have enjoyed the three warm days and were putting on a good show…

crocuses

…after looking as though they were completely over  earlier in the week.

In the pond, the warmth has caused the weed to grow a lot…

frog

…but there was enough space for a mass of wriggling tadpoles…

tadpoles

…who seemed to be blowing bubbles under the surface.  I have never seen foam like this before and can’t decide whether it is a good or a bad sign of tadpole health.

The grape hyacinths are making a little progress…

grape hyacinth

…although the planned river of blue is still the merest trickle.

The euphorbias are growing bigger every day.

euphorbia

…but so is the moss on the lawn.  I did mow a bit more of the middle lawn but there are spots when a blade of grass is hard to find.

I went in and looked out.

chaffinch

A chaffinch, perhaps wondering sadly if it always has to be the same seed for lunch.

flying chaffinch

And another putting a spell on a bird below in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We had a light lunch and then, after a quick run through one of the songs for out Carlisle choir, we set off for a bit of shopping and the weekly choir practice.

The practice was fun but hard work, as we are going through a couple of songs where if you are singing an A, there is bound to be someone else singing a B in your ear.  Still, we did get praise from our conductor for having obviously done home practice so that was very satisfactory.  More is required though.

It was such a lovely day, that we took a  roundabout route home.  We passed a pub in Rockcliffe and called in to see if we could get a meal as there wasn’t one ready in the slow cooker at home.  We had forgotten that it was Mothering Sunday though and the pub told us that they were on their third session of people taking mum out for a meal already and if we hadn’t booked, we were too late.

 We consoled ourselves by walking past the village church…

Rockcliffe Church

…and down onto the water meadow beside the River Eden.  It is a beautiful spot on a sunny evening.

River Eden

River Eden

River Eden

The River Eden floods so the church is placed on a handy hill…

rockliffe church

…and the bank below it was covered in pretty primroses.

rockliffe church

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the roots of a tree fixed into the rocks beside the track to the church.

rockliffe church

There must be the makings of a ghoulish fairy story in the manner of the Grimm Brothers there.

We drove home and enjoyed a fry up for our tea.  Not quite as good as a meal out but quite tasty all the same.

The flower of the day is a chionodoxa, smiling back at the sun…

chionodoxa

…and the flying bird is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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I have recently been sent a good selection of guest pictures and will work through them.  Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile, Irving and shows a visitor to his garden.

squirrel

It was only a degree or two above freezing when we got up this morning and the wind was blowing more fiercely than yesterday so in spite of some cheerful sunshine, I was more than happy to stretch breakfast into coffee by way of a crossword and some bird watching.

As the birds that I watched today were exactly the same as the birds that I had watched yesterday, I thought that I might have a bird free blog today for a change.

After coffee, I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is very pleased with these hellebores this year…

hellebores

…and you can see why.

To make up for the lack of pictures of birds, I went out for a walk, hoping to find interesting things to look at and choosing a route that was well protected by hedges and woods.  If you could get out of the wind and into the sunshine, it was a grand day for an expedition.

I went along the track to the Becks wood, passing fresh growth on the larches…

larch

…new lambs in the fields…

larch

…and a dove from above.

white pigeon

…or possibly a pigeon.

I kept an eye for scarlet elf caps in the wood and saw that there were still one or two about.

P1100335

(I put an editing suggestion from last night’s meeting into action with this image.  I need a bit more work at it but it was fun to play about in the photo editor.)

I thought that the light might be right for a visit to the little waterfall on the Becks Burn…

Becks waterfall

..but I still didn’t manage to capture just what a delightful corner this spot is.  I’ll try again in summer.

When I had crossed the burn and got through the woods, I walked up the road for a bit.  I noted a well built stone culvert…

culvert

…which no doubt these days would be a concrete or metal pipe.  The labour involved in creating the roads round us must have been enormous as they are crossed by endless little streams….

…and I saw my first celandine of the spring…

celandine

…which was more welcome to me by the roadside than it will be to Mrs Tootlepedal if any appear in the garden.

The views were well decorated with clouds again…

Becks view

…but they were kinder today and I got round my walk without encountering any hail or rain.

I went to visit the old curling pond but it is sadly overgrown now.  The visit wasn’t wasted though as  a’dogs tooth’ peltigera lichen caught my eye as I was jumping over a ditch in the wood.

peltigera

I walked back down the road….

Becks road

..with yet more views on the way…

View from hallcrofts

…until I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Becks Burn as it passes under the  Wauchope road .

Becks Burn

There is a good show of daffodils waiting to greet visitors to the town as they approach from the west…

Meikleholm daffodils

…but I liked this lone dandelion as well.

dandelion

I put some vegetable soup on to cook when I got home and while it was simmering, I had another look round the garden.

In spite of the chilly weather, spring is definitely springing.

drumstick primula

A drumstick primula with a rich colour

Euphorbia

A Euphorbia shows its claws

Pulmonaria

 Pulmonaria showing its colours

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from helping at the Buccleuch Centre and joined me in a bowl of soup (which is a phrase that conjures up an image that  bends the mind slightly).

I went out into the garden again and sieved a bucket or two of compost from the contents of Bin D and the results looked pretty good.  I am hoping to rebuild Bins A and B which are falling to bits so I will have to get Bin D empty as soon as possible.

On my walk, I had noticed that the farmer who owns the manure mine from which he kindly lets Mrs Tootlepedal get her supplies, had completely cleared the manure from the site.  There will be no  manure mining for Mrs Tootlepedal there thus year.

Bearing this in mind, we set off to a garden centre after I had finished my compost sieving and purchased a selection of compost, manure and soil improver in bags as well as paying a visit to a pet food supplier nearby where I topped up my stock of sunflower seeds for the birds.

It was still sunny when we got home but the wind was just as strong and it was getting pretty chilly so we went inside where Mrs Tootlepedal got on with some interior decorating and I played about with my photo editor.

The flying bird of the day is an eager chaffinch in the morning sunshine.

flying chaffinch

Endnote:  On my walk this morning, I passed the house of a cycling friend and he invited me into his garage to look at his indoor winter cycling set up which uses an app called Zwift.  With this app, he can get on his bike on a standard turbo trainer and cycle against other cyclists from all over the world in real time while his route unwinds in front of him, projected onto a screen from his laptop.  I might never come out into the open again if i had a set up like that.  No wind!

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia, who was wandering across the Somerset levels at East Lyng when she was passed by a freight train.

East Lyng train

From our point of view, it wasn’t much of a storm yesterday but it was certainly calm and sunny when we got up this morning.  From a cycling point of view though, it was too cold and our pond was frozen over.  Under these circumstances, I was more than happy to spend a little time drinking coffee and nibbling treacle scones with Dropscone.

A goldfinch on the plum tree really caught the morning sun but equally a goldfinch found the concomitant shadows on the feeder.

goldfinch and greenfinch

While we were chatting, a great tit dropped by and hung around for a moment or two.

great tit

After Dropscone left with golf in mind, I took a quick turn round the garden…

hellebore, daffodil and wallflower

Hellebore, daffodil and wallflower enjoying the sun.

…cleaned and oiled my bike chain and set out for a cycle ride.  The temperature had risen to a safe level by this time but to compensate, the sun promptly went in.  There was a forecast of possible light rain later so I stuck to a fairly dull thirty mile circular route and stopped from time to time to look at three trees.

pine tree near Dunnabie

A fine tree by a heavily patched section of road on the way to Waterbeck

tree near Dunnabie

A battered tree against an unwelcoming cloudscape

Near Sprinkell

The Tour of Britain peleton once squeezed past this tree along this narrow road.

A bit further along the same road, I stopped to take a picture of the burn in a little valley below me as I climbed a hill after crossing it on a small bridge…

near chapelknowe

…and I would have enjoyed the view even more if I hadn’t been well aware that in half a mile or so, I was going straight back down another hill to cross the same burn again.   That is cycling though.

The first ten miles of the trip were quite hard work with several climbs into the wind but thereafter I had the benefit of a most friendly breeze at my back and no steep hills so that I enjoyed the last twenty miles a great deal.

I stopped as I crossed the road bridge over the Irvine Burn three miles from home and looked at a little farmer’s bridge a few yards up stream…

Irvine Burn bridge

…and then I crossed the farmer’s bridge and looked back at the road bridge which at one time was crossed by  the  A7 to Langholm…

Irvine Burn bridge

…and then I turned round and stared open mouthed at the vast embankment which carries the new A7 and which must have a little hole at its foot to let the burn through.

Irvine Burn bridge

As a driver, I like the new road on its embankment and as a cyclist, I am grateful to it because it allows me to cycle up the old road in peace.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy working in the garden and in spite of a light drizzle which started almost the moment that I got off my bike, I walked round the garden with my camera in hand.

The ice on the pond had gone and at least some frogs had survived.

frogs

Although new floral developments have been slowed by the recent poor weather, one crocus had defiantly opened up its petals while all the rest remained closed for business.

crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal’s avenue of snowdrops along the back path are still looking well…

snowdrops

…and they put thoughts of black and white flower studies into my head.

snowdrops

snowdrops

Almost everything looks interesting if you peer closely enough.

The drizzle didn’t come to anything so I thought that I might go for a little walk but then I had a second thought, watched a bird or two…

chaffinch and siskin

A chaffinch and siskin perform a balancing act

….had a cup of tea and a shower and did the crossword instead.

After that, the day ground gently to a halt.

We are going to Manchester for a couple of days tomorrow, both for a short break to take in a show and see the city and to sing with the Carlisle choir in a competition and I may well take the chance to take a day or two off the blogging treadmill while I am there, giving both myself and the patients readers a well earned rest.  I may succumb to temptation but if you don’t see a post for a day or two, wish us luck in the competition and be prepared to see some city pictures when we get back.

The plant of  the day is a blushing Euphorbia…

Euphorbia

…and the flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

 

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